It ends worldly pleasure, it separates groups, and Allah Almighty has subdued and humbled His servants through it, and through it does the collection of people’s wealth ends, hope vanishes, one's ambition, tyranny, oppression and arrogance comes to an end. It suffices to teach moral lessons to men of reason, wisdom and guidance. It is the conclusion of this life which, when one looks [to the hereafter] through it, he will gain sight, and if one looks to it, it blinds him. Allah has made it a plantation for the Hereafter and a race ground for it. It is has been narrated from some of our Imams (peace be upon them) that he stood at the edge of a grave being dug up and said, "If something ends with this, its beginning must surely be looked down at. And if this is the beginning of something, its end should certainly be feared."[i]
Death causes one to leave this life, so he departs from it and everything in it having nothing in his company except his deeds and what he committed which are in a Book of Deeds which does not leave anything out, be it small or big, without recording it. After that, everyone will be presented before Allah Almighty for their trial, then fair judgment and sentence: "Then anyone who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it; and anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it” (Qur'an, 99:7-8).
The most Exalted One has also said, "We shall gather them all together, and We shall not leave out any one of them. And they will be brought before your Lord in ranks (with the announcement of:) 'Now you have come to Us (bare) as We first created you. Nay, you thought We would not fulfill the promise made to you to meet (Us)!' And the book (of deeds) will be placed (before you), and you will see the sinners in great terror because of what is (recorded) in it; they will say, 'Ah! Woe unto us! What a book this is! It leaves out nothing small or great but takes account of it!' They will find all that they did placed before them, and your Lord will not treat a single one of them unjustly” (Qur'an, 18:47-49).
A believer has to be cautious about it by doing the good deeds, by earning what is lawful, by being prudent and cautious in managing his affairs, always looking for whatever pleases Allah Almighty, avoiding exposing himself to His wrath. He must not surrender his lead in the life of this vanishing world to his wishes, desires, emotions and impulses, and listen to the evil whisperings of Satan the accursed and the motives of the human selfwhich enjoins evil, being inattentive to the schemes that surround one, being distracted from the sure fate, for there is no avoiding death at all when the time comes. The Almighty says, "We have made many jinn and men for Hell: They have hearts with which they do not understand, eyes with which they do not see, and ears with which they do not hear. They are like cattle! Nay! More misguided, for they are heedless (of warning)” (Qur'an, 7:179).
We plead to Allah, all praise and exaltation belong to Him, through His bounties and generosity, to protect us from whatever causes one to fall in perdition, to make us among the people of remembrance and admonishment and not make us indifferent; surely He is the most Merciful of those who show mercy, the Master of the faithful.
Q1: In some non-Muslim countries, the deceased person is put inside a wooden box, and the box is then buried inside the grave; what should we do in this case?
A: There is no objection about it if the other obligations are taken care of such as washing and Tahneet[ii] shrouding and performing the funeral prayers for it while it lies on its back, and all other burial obligations are taken care of such as making the corpse lean on its right side facing the Qibla with his head to the right side of the praying person and legs to his left. It is also possible, in addition to the above, to do other commendable actions such as placing earth underneath his right cheek.
Q2: If a Muslim dies in a non-Muslim country where there is no cemetery exclusively for the Muslims, and he can be transported to an Islamic country for burial, but the transportation expenses are too high; is it permissible to bury him in a non-Muslim cemetery?
A: Burying a Muslim in a cemetery belonging to non-Muslims is prohibited only if the deceased person's dignity or that of the religion is violated. In this case, one must avoid his burial in it as much as possible even if the expenses of transporting his corpse are very high. However, if this does not bring about such violation it is not prohibited to bury him in the cemetery of non-Muslims, even if the transportation costs for moving his body to a Muslim country was not high, especially if the cemetery is not for any particular religion, rather, the cemetery was founded for the purpose of the burial of anybody without regard to their religion.
Q3: If there is no guardian for a Muslim who dies in a non-Muslim country, who should take care of all of his [funeral-related] affairs?
A: The Muslims must prepare him [for burial], and anyone who does so, it will be sufficient. There is no need to refer to anyone. Yes, if it is possible to contact his guardian in his homeland, even via a telephone call or the like, it is an obligatory precaution to do so.
Q4: Unidentified bodies are taken out of hospitals; nobody knows to whom they belong. Is it permissible to pay their burial expenses from the Khums money?
A: If the deceased person is known to be a believer in the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), it is permissible then to pay it from Sahm al-Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance) after consulting with the Hakim Shar'i. If consulting with him is not possible due to time constrictions or the like, it is permissible to cover his burial expenses from Sahm al-Imam (peace be upon him) if this is the only possible option, due to the absence of a donor and unavailability of funds from any other source other than this sacred Sahm al-Imam. However, funds spent must be restricted to what is necessary and not on something which is unnecessary.
Q5: Someone indicates in his will that his body should be taken after death to the holy shrines. When those working in the hospital come to know about it, they remove some of his internal organs after his death so they may be able to preserve the body for a longer period of time. Is it permissible for the guardian to permit them to do that? What is the ruling if people in charge in a country refuse to transport the body unless its internal organs are cut off, so not allowing them to do so and thus not transporting the body will violate the will?
A: Organs must not be cut off, and the guardian must prevent them from doing so even if this requires the will not to be implemented; a will cannot be implemented if doing so results in committing something which Islam prohibits.
Q6: There are some believers who die in foreign lands and whose families and relatives wish their bodies be transported to some Islamic countries, such as Iraq, for burial. Because a long period passes after the death before the body can be transported, due to official procedures, it is required that the blood be drained from the body in order to slow down it’s decay. Is it permissible for the blood to be drained out for this purpose?
A: Transporting a corpse is, in itself, permissible, and it is commendable if it is taken to the holy shrines. But drawing the blood out of a corpse like that, and thus dealing with his body in this way, is prohibited. Therefore, it is mandatory to avoid transporting it if this is what it takes, and the body should be buried there (in foreign land). Allah Almighty will reward him for his faith, intention and his family's intention with His mercy, if He wills; surely He is the most Merciful of all those who show mercy.
Q7: Is it permissible to walk behind the coffin of a non-Muslim to bid him farewell if he is, for example, a neighbor?
A: Yes, it is permissible; actually it is commendable because of the good social relations it entails, which Islam emphasizes in its Holy Book, the Qur'an, and it is commended by its Great Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) and the Imams from among his Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them all). We have already stated in the eleventh chapter of the Introduction in the beginning of this book, as well as in other chapters which are relevant and helpful; so one can refer to it and ponder over it.
Q8: What should the believers do when someone commits suicide or dies due to the use of drugs and other substances, or if he was known for being a transgressor and a corrupt person, whether he was openly being so or not. Should the believers attend his funeral and burial? What about his family in particular?
A: It is permissible to attend his funeral, burial and the like, as long as this does not encourage committing prohibited deeds, or if avoiding it is considered to be forbidding evil. One must then restrict the proceedings to the minimal obligatory acts in the washing, the shrouding, the prayers and the burial.
Q9: If a corpse bleeds abundantly and is yet to stop bleeding, is it permissible to wrap the bleeding place with a bag or by placing plaster on it and washing it with such bandaging? If washing in this manner is not valid, what should be done while the corpse is still bleeding?
A: If it is possible to wait until the bleeding comes to an end, then one should wait; otherwise, if it can be washed with the bleeding even if it is to be done with the use of Kurr water, or the bleeding place is washed while removing the blood from it, and then leaving it to bleed while the rest of the body is washed, then this must be done. If washing in these manners is not possible, one must wash the body with the mentioned bandaging as well as perform Tayammum, as a matter of precaution.
Q10: If the corpse bleeds during the third Ghusl, should all past Ghusls be repeated, or should only the third Ghusl be repeated with the use of clear water?
A: If the bleeding occurs after completing any of the three Ghusls, the Ghusl does not become invalidated; the only thing that should be done is that the Najasah be removed.
[i]Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 11, p. 315.
[ii]Application of camphor on certain parts of the body.